Blog Posts on Patient Identification in Healthcare

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Improving Quality of Care for Patients – 3 Tech Trends to Watch Out for

2020 feels like yesterday – while it did seem like the longest year due to COVID-19 and a number of other issues, we’ve finally stepped into 2021. The pandemic did bring a lot of hardship, took a lot from us, and has changed our lives forever. However, it did also show new ways to do things we thought were never possible. For instance, virtually everyone has worked remotely (many still are doing it) and telehealth usage exploded. COVID-19 changed reality for everyone and everything, but it affected healthcare the most, especially that of the US. Many hospitals had to shut their doors, whereas many health systems closed down some of their facilities. However, one of the most dramatic changes to healthcare was telehealth, and it looks like it’s here to stay. The pandemic has also forced many to adopt or come up with technology that has the potential to improve the quality of care for patients – let’s take a look at some of the promising ones.

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3 tech trends that can improve the quality of care for patients 

Telehealth

Quite unsurprisingly, telehealth is the tech to look out for in 2021. Telehealth has been growing immensely, and it’s finally getting all the attention it deserves. Since the pandemic started, the focus has been on two things – treating COVID-19 patients by allocating whatever resources required and diverting non-critical patients to virtual sessions. Months later, telehealth has been the icing on the cake – it helped reduce infections as well as helped patients receive care online without having to leave the safety of their homes. While it still might have some issues to iron out, all trends point toward a healthcare system that significantly uses virtual care. 

Moving toward the cloud

Some large players are entering the healthcare system and they are definitely going to attract the attention of hospitals and health systems to store their data online. With data breaches becoming more common than ever, it shows that most of the existing cybersecurity measures taken by hospitals are not up to the mark, mostly because of budgetary issues. 

While not everything can be moved to the cloud, many critical pieces of information can be, and that can ultimately help healthcare providers as it can be used to securely access data from anywhere – something that has become mandatory since the pandemic. 

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All of this cannot only make sharing and retrieving data more convenient but also improve healthcare processes by making them faster and more reliable – improving the quality of care for patients.

Touchless solutions 

Due to the pandemic, the entire world is working hard to reduce or eliminate touch-based processes or solutions. Even in the healthcare space, touchless solutions will be seen in the coming years. However, did you know that such a solution already exists and that many forward-thinking hospitals have already been using it? 

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that has been helping responsible healthcare providers for years. It is tried and tested, is versatile, and is helping enhance patient safety. But why exactly should more healthcare providers adopt it going forward? Well, that’s because the pandemic has shown everyone how deadly physical contact can be and how quickly people can get infected.

Quite naturally, it means that everyone knows about the cons of touch-based solutions. Most patient identification platforms require physical touches from patients – raising infection control issues. Fortunately, RightPatient is entirely touchless – it attaches a photo and biometric data of the patient with their EHR. After enrollment, all a patient needs to do is look at the camera – the platform performs a search and provides the appropriate medical record in seconds. 

Moreover. RightPatient is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint within the healthcare facility, making it feasible for telehealth sessions. Patients are sent an SMS or email after they schedule appointments. They are required to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license – RightPatient automatically compares the pictures, ensuring remote authentication. 

RightPatient not only solves a crucial problem of healthcare providers (patient misidentification), but it also helps improve patient safety, reduce duplicate medical records, and prevent medical identity theft effectively. Be a responsible healthcare leader now and use RightPatient to improve your bottom line by improving the quality of care for patients.

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Exploring the Top Healthcare Technology Trends 

Technology advancement has revolutionized the healthcare industry. Latest technologies are innovated to diagnose and treat lethal diseases. People have also become health conscious and they try to use the latest technologies to know about their health conditions. As the pandemic has hit the world badly, it has changed the landscape of the healthcare market. People used to visit doctors before, but now they prefer to take a doctor’s assistance online while maintaining social distancing. 

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Along with telehealth, many other tech trends are revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Let’s take a look at the top healthcare technology trends in 2021.

TeleMedicine

COVID-19 has given a great boost to telehealth resources. According to the statistics of April 2020, 43.5% of people followed telehealth methods rather than in-person visits. In the pandemic, people are asked to avoid social contact so telehealth methods help to take medical assistance while staying at home. It is expected that telehealth methods will continue to proceed even after the pandemic is over. Statistics show that 50% of people had already used virtual appointments and 71% of patients in the US used telemedicine at the start of the pandemic. 

The best part of Telemedicine is that people are comfortable with this service and they are adopting it without any hesitation. Thus, the future of Telemedicine is very strong. 

One of the important devices used in healthcare is fitness trackers. Through fitness trackers, they also check the overall wellness of the people. The pandemic has given a great boost to telehealth service and it is expected to reach $185.6 billion by 2026. 

The advanced telehealth service is telemedicine apps.  One of the famous apps is WebRTC, it uses the API system to connect web-browsers with mobile applications. This app is famous among patients because of its versatility. It provides features like video chat, screen sharing, text, and file transfer. Electronic health records EHR are integrated into your telemedicine app. It helps healthcare providers and patients to watch their medical records in this app. 

Interactive Voice Response is used to interact with the patients through digital speech. Apple Health Kit and google fit can be integrated with the app so that people can check the health information on their smartphone. While developing this app, it is essential to consider what features they should have. The features that should be looked upon are appointment management, location services, security, secure messaging, audio-video communication, visitors’ history, healthcare provider reviews, and virtual testing through wearable integration.  The accessibility and security of this app make it a great need for healthcare technology.

However, experts are worried that hackers will turn their attention to telehealth sessions and steal patient information. Healthcare providers need to ensure that patient information is protected even during remote sessions.

Fortunately, RightPatient can help with that. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that attaches patients’ photos and their biometric data to the EHRs during registration. RightPatient is also versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint – even during telehealth sessions, protecting patient data and preventing medical identity theft.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Many mobile apps and various devices are used to track and prevent chronic illness in patients. The development of IoT with telehealth and telemedicine technologies has resulted in the emergence of the new internet of medical things (IoMT). This includes the use of wearables like EKG and ECG monitors. They help in detecting blood pressure readings, glucose levels, and skin temperature.

It is expected by 2025, the IoT industry will be worth $6.2 trillion. In this time of the pandemic, IoT technology is widely used and 30% of the market share for IoT devices is derived from healthcare. The first delivery method in IoT took place in 2017 by the FDA when they approved the smart pill. IoMT is also giving effective options to their patients. Providing different options with different devices is full of challenges.

Manufacturers are using proprietary protocols while communicating with devices. This can create a problem when you have to collect large data from the servers. Connectivity issues can also prevail in smartphones and microcontrollers because of many environmental factors. The Buffering problem needs to be addressed to maintain a better connection. Security concerns also need to be taken care of. The report from the Ponemon Institute’s sixth annual benchmark study on the security and privacy of healthcare data says that 89% of healthcare operations are the result of the data breach.

Use of Artificial Intelligence in COVID-19

Artificial Intelligence is playing a pivotal role in this period of the pandemic. It helps in pandemic detection, analyzing CT scans, facial recognition with masks, vaccine development treatment, and vaccine development. 

a) Pandemic Detection

BlueDot, an application developed in Canada, is the first to detect COVID-19. Bluedot’s system is scanning over 100,000 media sources from around the globe in more than 65 different languages. It helps to identify real dangerous breakthroughs of a pandemic. To know the intensity of the pandemic, the following factors are analyzed:

  • Examining the regional and global climate conditions.
  • Analyzing the data of itineraries and flights.
  • Looking into vaccine development.
  • Examining the animal and insect populations.
  • The capacity of health systems.

As per the Brookings Institution, in the development of the new vaccine, the response of immunogenic viral components is taken from the immune system. Machine learning has assisted immunology. Artificial intelligence helps to identify the properties that are needed to combat the pandemic. Machine learning provides data with great speed, efficiency, and precision that cannot be developed by human work alone. With the help of machine assistance, immunologists have identified over one million fragments of proteins on the cell’s surface.

“SYGFQPTNGVGYQPY” is a portion of COVID-19 that needs to be fragmented to know more about the pandemic. Machine learning is helping in this regard and COVID-19 vaccine development is in process.

b) Thermal Screening

Many thermal screening devices like non-contact infrared thermometers and a variety of thermal screening systems are used to detect the temperature of human beings. AI can detect the temperature of many human beings at once. Thus, it is widely used in the diagnosis of COVID-19

c) Analysis of CT Scan

Humans can make an error in the analysis of CT scans. Artificial intelligence can detect pneumonia caused by COVID-19 in the chest scan. Chest scans are taken by utilizing the data taken from machine learning.

d) Facial Recognition while wearing Masks

Machines used in facial recognition can identify people wearing the mask with 95% accuracy.

Robotics

In surgical departments, many collaborative robots like the da Vinci surgical robot are working to assist doctors in doing surgeries. The use of robots is not limited to the surgical department. They are also used in other healthcare departments. The robotic industry is making progress by leaps and bounds and it is expected to reach $ 20 billion by 2023. The robots are helping the doctors to treat the patients from remote areas with telepresence, for example, helping patients with rehabilitation and prosthetics, disinfecting the hospital rooms, packaging medical devices, and automating labs. Other medical robots include micro-bot. They are used in the therapy of the specific part of the body like clearing bacterial infections or giving radiation to a tumor.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality  

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are very important technologies that are being used to assist telehealth in the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. From treating the patients and helping the medical students in procedure simulations, this innovative technology is altering science fiction to reality.

AR and VR technology are helping to treat stroke victims by overcoming motor deficiencies. These stroke patients are taken to such a virtual and simulated environment that can help in regaining their motor skills. They provide the flexibility that cannot be attained by physical therapy. Controlled simulations also help to gather data that can be used to make care plans for patients.

Maplewood Senior Living in Connecticut is successfully using VR headsets to work with those patients that are suffering from Dementia and cognitive impairments. The environment created by augmented and virtual reality produces such medical results that cannot be gathered by the normal environment. This helps patients in reviving their memory and improving their health. Augmented reality also helps healthcare people to provide personalized services. They take information in 3D space according to doctors and surgeon’s vision. This real-time access can help them devise medical procedures. This also made students learn from procedures and doctors compare and use data for an accurate diagnosis. 

5G

To provide healthcare services to the patients that are residing in any remote and under-served area, speed and quality are very important to get desired outcomes. 5G is helping healthcare organizations by providing them with the transmission of large imaging files so that doctors can review and advise on patient care treatment. 

Wrapping Up

The medical and healthcare field is very important for human survival. The diagnosis and treatment should be given to patients on time so that they can combat the disease and start living a healthy life. Telemedicine, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), Robotics, Augmented and Virtual reality, and 5G are technological trends that are used to provide incredible health facilities to billions of people around the globe. These medical technologies are also helping healthcare systems to cope with increasing demands.

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Prevent “Professional Patients” in Clinical Trials with an Effective Patient Identifier

COVID-19 has changed reality as we know it since it was first detected. Everything and everyone has been affected, and now, it has reached every continent in the world. But we are hearing all around us that there is light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel. Fortunately, after months of struggle and research, several vaccines have been approved for emergency use. Researchers have worked tirelessly to come up with these vaccines, but there are several factors that could have jeopardized the vaccines – one of these is professional patients that participate in clinical trials. Let’s take a look at what professional patients actually are, how they hamper the integrity of clinical trials, and how an effective patient identifier can help prevent them.

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Clinical trials are more crucial than ever

Clinical trials occur on a regular basis and they are an integral part of healthcare. They lead to new drugs, treatment, and medical devices that reduce recovery times, improve healthcare outcomes, and treat complex or deadly diseases. However, as of now, everyone’s focus is on creating vaccines for COVID-19, which is why clinical trials have been in the spotlight for most of the year.

Clinical trials are quite lengthy and can be risky, but offer the reward of helping scientists arrive at key breakthroughs in healthcare. However, one of the trickiest parts is to recruit patients that fit the requirements of the trial. The volunteers are compensated handsomely and receive treatment for the conditions, but only after thorough background checks are conducted to identify any discrepancies.

That being said, factors such as the existence of “professional patients” can significantly hamper the efficacy and integrity of clinical trials. They can jeopardize years of research, cause millions in losses, and cause promising drugs to remain unapproved. Since there is no effective patient identifier used in clinical trials, professional patients mostly get away with hampering the trials. But what exactly are professional patients, and what are their motivations? 

Professional patients in a nutshell

Professional patients are those individuals that participate in clinical trials quite frequently, and many of them even participate in multiple trials at once. Yes, there are many types of professional patients. However, all of them create data quality issues and inconsistent results and are a hazard to sponsors, CROs (clinical research organizations), and drug companies.

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The first type of professional patients is simply those who have the required medical condition(s) and participate in clinical trials for financial gains. They usually cannot afford treatment for their medical conditions, and thus sign up at multiple facilities, either one at a time or simultaneously. Since they get exposed to multiple untested drugs and receive multiple doses of said drugs, they severely impact the data quality, their own health, and might cause promising drugs to not leave even the initial testing phases.

The other type of professional patients is those who have the required condition(s) but are not in it for the financial benefits. Instead, they falsify information down the line for something far more dangerous. These patients fake results not because they want the treatments; they want regular access to the drugs. These patients are common in treatments regarding addictions. 

The final type of professional patients is those who falsify information. They don’t have the medical condition(s) required by the trial but want to be a part of it. Not only do they falsify information during enrollment, but they can also give false information during the trial itself, which is extremely dangerous! It leads the researchers to make decisions based on incorrect information and can cause the trial to shut down. 

The lack of an effective patient identifier costs millions

Drug companies, sponsors, and CROs pour an enormous amount of time, money, and resources into clinical trials. Unfortunately, all of these are rendered useless by professional patients, and the unreliable data created by these individuals can cost millions. However, the best way to detect and prevent such cases in clinical trials is by using an effective, experienced, and well-reputed patient identifier.

An effective patient identifier ensures the integrity of clinical trials

RightPatient is the leading biometric patient identification platform trusted by several healthcare providers. Used by over 80 hospitals and thousands of clinics, RightPatient is the perfect solution to prevent professional patients in clinical trials.

Patients are assigned a single and unique biometric identity during registration, and they can be identified using mobile devices as well. If professional patients come in, the system can simply red flag them, if registered, and prevent them from participating in the trial, ensuring data integrity in clinical trials. 

Use RightPatient and avoid millions in losses, improve the efficacy of clinical trials, and optimize operations – contact us now to learn how we can help.

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What Makes PPO Insurance So Interesting?

If you want a flexible health insurance plan that puts you in control of your coverage, you should consider PPO insurance. PPO insurance comes with more freedom of choice when choosing healthcare providers. These insurance plans are also relatively affordable, making them a good choice for those on a budget or looking for cheap health insurance.

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Let’s take a closer look at PPO insurance and answer the question of what makes PPO insurance so interesting.

How Does PPO Insurance Work?

Let’s begin with the basics and look at how PPO Insurance, or Preferred Provider Organization insurance, works. These insurance plans are insurance products where you get the freedom of choice over primary and specialty care providers. Most policies cover you for all across the United States. Some PPO insurance policies even cover international travel.

As a PPO plan member, you’ll save money when you choose a service provider from within an insurance network. However, you can still get some coverage when choosing a provider outside of the network. Please note that choosing an out-of-network provider means you’ll have to pay more out-of-pocket.

Your insurance provider will give you a list of all of the practitioners and facilities within their network. You can choose from the service providers in your area to get all of the healthcare you need at a preferential price. As the healthcare you get from network providers is cheaper, we recommend choosing a doctor or facility within the network whenever possible to save the most money.

What Makes PPO Insurance Interesting?

PPO Plans are Adaptable

The most-touted benefit of signing up for PPO insurance is the adaptability of those programs. We are confident that you will be able to find a plan that suits your needs and preferences. These plans stand out against other healthcare plans that aren’t as flexible. PPO insurance allows you to search for treatment from any medical provider or physician, no matter your health and needs. You won’t have to obtain permission from a primary care provider to get coverage at a different medical facility. These plans work around you, rather than needing you to work around them.

In fact, one thing that makes these plans exciting is that you don’t even need to have a primary care doctor. PPO insurance puts the power in your hands and lets you take the right course of action for your needs. The adaptability of PPO plans means that you can schedule appointments and get treatments without having to ask for a referral from your primary care provider. The power is in your hands.

PPO Plans Offer Network Flexibility

To go back to the subject of network flexibility within PPO plans once again, you also have the option of staying within your network of providers or seeking outside help. The good news is that you won’t feel limited by the network of preferred providers. Insurance providers are continually arranging new deals and adding to their networks. Even if you stick to the network every step of the way, you’ll find you still have an excellent selection of care providers compared to other insurance plans. PPO insurance networks tend to cover a lot more ground than the average insurance plan.

It would help if you discussed how a company chooses contracted providers for their network. Ensure that the company performs background checks on providers, including checking for a history of malpractice claims. There are plenty of excellent PPO insurance providers out there that offer great care with greater flexibility, but you should always ask questions and be informed before making a choice.

PPO Plans Put You In Control

The most significant advantage of choosing a PPO insurance provider is that you are in charge of personal health care decisions. You have the power to choose which treatment options you want and who you want to receive it from. Being able to contact doctors and book appointments within your network without having to gain approval combined with the option to seek out-of-network care with partial coverage is what makes these plans so unique and interesting.

You aren’t bound to a primary care physician’s whims and decisions when you choose PPO insurance. You don’t have to spend the time, effort, and money involved with finding a doctor that would be better for you. Instead, you can see specialists when you need one, whenever you want.

Preferred Provider health insurance is interesting because it does away with all of the red tape and referrals involved with standard health insurance. It puts the power back in the patients’ hands and lets you choose the healthcare you want.

Whenever the topic of health insurance arises, medical identity theft is not far behind, unfortunately. When it occurs, a fraudster can gain access to the victim’s healthcare services, obtain medical devices, and drugs, all of which are billed against the victim. Patients not only lose money, but their EHRs are also affected, as the fraudsters’ information gets recorded within their EHRs.

Fortunately, many hospitals are preventing medical identity theft in real-time using innovative solutions – one of which is RightPatient – a touchless biometric patient identification platform. By locking the patient records with their photos and biometric data during registration, it red-flags fraudsters during the verification process where they need to look at the camera. Upon looking at the camera, RightPatient compares the saved photo with the live one, verifying authentic patients and red-flagging fraudsters, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

Final Words

You have a lot of choices when it comes to healthcare and health insurance. PPO insurance is an option that lets you seek the healthcare you need when you need it. You can save money by choosing an in-network healthcare provider, but you can also get partial coverage for out-of-network care. You’ll never have to foot the whole bill, and you’ll never be caught out without some partial coverage at the least.

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4 Practices Regarding Telemedicine That Enhance Patient Protection

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will impact us for years to come, if not decades. It has shaken the entire world to its core and has changed everything we know. COVID-19 affected our daily lives, changed the way we interact with others, and made masks as well as sanitizers crucial necessities. Since many of the COVID-19 patients required urgent care, the US healthcare system had to come up with other ways for hospitals to serve non-COVID-19 patients without exposing them to the virus. Fortunately, tailor-made solutions already existed – telehealth and telemedicine being the biggest players. As a result, hospitals have been diverting a significant portion of their non-critical patients to virtual sessions – changing healthcare and the patient experience forever. That being said, let’s explore what the patients think about telehealth, what experts are saying about it, and how to ensure patient protection while improving quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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How telemedicine came into play

Since the novel coronavirus hit the US, it has been overwhelming healthcare providers, their frontline teams, and virtually everyone who is involved in the caregiving process. Due to capacity restrictions and patient safety concerns, caregivers had to redirect at least one-third of their less critical patients to telemedicine. Naturally, its usage shot up significantly in the beginning, and while it has been declining for some time, it is expected to increase as COVID-19 cases are once again rising. The bottom line is that telemedicine and telehealth are here to stay, although some issues need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at what over a million end users, i.e. patients, think of telemedicine, according to a recent survey by Press Ganey.

Patients’ perceptions regarding telemedicine

The first thing to highlight is that while most patients do appreciate the convenience telemedicine offers, it has a lot of wrinkles to iron out to make it seamless and more effective.

The good things

While many patients were being exposed to virtual visits for the first time, they did find it satisfactory. Many even said that they were likely to give good ratings to their caregivers after virtual visits, just as much as they would during inpatient ones. Telemedicine could successfully lead to a bond between the patient and the physician, and many patients felt that their physicians were more attentive during these virtual sessions. A patient even noted that during inpatient visits doctors would be looking at their computer screens anyway, which felt like they were distracted. During the virtual visits, however, the doctor had direct eye contact with her. 

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What needs improvement

While telemedicine itself is good, the process and ease of getting to virtual visits are not – these need significant improvements, especially with scheduling sessions and making audio or video connections.

However, there are a few more issues that require attention which, according to experts, might hamper patient protection – let’s dive in.

Experts are worried about patient protection

Healthcare data breaches have been increasing significantly, and are occurring even now. Moreover, the risk of a breach is higher during virtual sessions, ultimately endangering patient data. Healthcare providers need to strengthen their security measures and ensure patient protection during virtual visits. With restrictions eased regarding communication tools like Zoom, Skype, and similar utilities, as well as hackers turning their attention to virtual sessions, patient data security is at more risk than ever.

Practices that improve patient protection during virtual visits

Provide training and ensure awareness 

There is nothing more effective than raising awareness among your employees, and the best way to do this is by providing them with training. Clearly explain to them the consequences of data breaches, and also provide them with sessions where they can learn about the do’s and don’ts regarding emails, opening links, accessing patient data, etc.

Follow practices that safeguard patient information

Encrypting data might be the oldest trick in the book, but it can make it difficult for hackers to use the information.

A few practices must be followed to ensure patient protection during both virtual and inpatient visits:

  • Ensure that patient data is encrypted during rest and transmission.
  • Use reputed antivirus and firewall applications.
  • Use only verified and licensed software and keep them updated.
  • Restrict access to any unauthorized parties.

Use enterprise-level video conferencing platforms

While hospitals initially got the chance to use tools such as Zoom, Skype, Meet, etc., these have added cybersecurity risks. Telemedicine has grown significantly now, with many enterprise-grade platforms available that have enhanced security out of the box. While deploying them might be costly, they can be critical for ensuring patient protection during virtual sessions, eliminating the chance of hackers gaining access during these sessions.

Use solutions to mitigate risks and ensure patient protection

While there are many practices and strategies available that might strengthen cybersecurity efforts, hackers always come up with plans that ultimately could result in data breaches. Moreover, not all caregivers can upgrade their security measures due to several factors, especially budgetary constraints. As a result, having a response plan to mitigate the risks and consequences is crucial. Also, while it might seem like data breaches are unstoppable, medical identity theft is not – it can be prevented with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ faces to identify their records. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the facility – making it perfect for virtual visits.

After scheduling appointments, patients need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license; RightPatient automatically extracts the data and compares the photos for a positive match, verifying identities remotely. New patients are provided with unique biometric credentials. If a fraudster attempts to assume the identity of the patient, the platform will red-flag them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

During inpatient visits, enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search to identify the patient and provides the correct medical record within seconds.

By doing so, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft even after data breaches, protecting patient information, eliminating litigation costs, and mitigating the consequences.

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Improving Remote Patient Outcomes by Addressing 5 Elements

The pandemic has been an unprecedented event that has taken much away from us since it started. However, hospitals in the affected countries felt its heat the most, and arguably the worst affected one is the US healthcare system. COVID-19 forced hospitals to divert regular patients to telehealth, leading to the explosive growth that it very much needed. Since telehealth is here to stay, more and more caregivers are adopting it and allocating resources for their online patients. While doing so, healthcare providers need to ensure that patient outcomes are optimal and immaculate.

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Let’s take a look at five elements healthcare providers need to consider and address to improve the patient outcomes of their remote patients.

5 addressable elements that can improve online patient outcomes

Catering to patients’ expectations

While telehealth has been around for quite some time in the US healthcare system, healthcare providers and patients did not pay much attention to it. Experts kept arguing about its merits and drawbacks, whereas patients were reluctant to try it. 

Telehealth achieved mainstream popularity only after the pandemic hit the US, and after almost a year, both patients and caregivers still might need some adjustments. For starters, caregivers need to identify patients’ expectations and work on addressing them.

A seamless check-in process and reduced wait times are good starting points, as these are some common requests. Moreover, if there are any temporary issues with the service, patients need to be notified immediately to avoid dissatisfaction. Conducting small and engaging surveys is another good strategy to determine what patients expect during the virtual sessions.

Training telehealth staff members

One of the best ways to improve online healthcare outcomes is by ensuring that patients have the best possible experience, and that can be done only if the telehealth team works effectively.

As already mentioned, telehealth is quite new to virtually everyone, and providing training sessions to the telehealth teams is a must to ensure that they use this solution to its maximum potential.

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Not only can training help improve efficiency, but it can also help caregivers provide patients with a seamless, intuitive, and engaging experience, improving patient outcomes in the process.

Ensuring ample security

Patient safety and confidentiality are necessities that any and all healthcare providers must ensure, and virtual sessions are no different. Something that is often brought up in regard to telehealth is security – data breaches are at an all-time high. Experts have been predicting that there will be fraudulent cases during telehealth sessions, as hackers and fraudsters may try to disrupt the entire session.

Hospitals and health systems must ensure that ample safeguards are used to protect patient information, prevent data breaches, and identity medical theft. Caregivers must go the extra mile and ensure that patient outcomes are error-free, safe, and optimal. 

However, while data breaches have so far been inevitable, medical identity theft is not. It can be prevented, but more on that later.

Ensuring reliability

A solution is as good as its reliability, and the same goes for telehealth options. Healthcare providers have a variety of options – they can either choose from the vast number of third-party solutions, or they can develop their own in-house. Whichever option they choose, healthcare providers must ensure that the solution is reliable and doesn’t break down unexpectedly or under pressure. If it fails, it can result in detrimental patient outcomes. For instance, equipment or technology breaking down in the middle of a telehealth session can be potentially dangerous for the patients, especially those who need urgent care.

While choosing third-party telehealth solutions, reading reviews can be quite helpful to determine their reliability. Also, pilot testing them provides a first-hand experience as to how reliable they are in real-time.

Ensure accurate patient identification for improved patient outcomes

Patient identification errors have been a prevalent but overlooked issue within the US healthcare system, and while many caregivers are still struggling with it during the pandemic, it will very likely be an issue during telehealth sessions as well. Imagine this: if the patient is misidentified right from the start and the wrong EHR (Electronic Health Record) is used, then the entire process will be full of errors. Moreover, as previously mentioned, medical identity theft during telehealth services is a growing concern. However, all of this can be mitigated with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is used by responsible caregivers to accurately identify their patients. It locks patients’ medical records with their photos and their biometric data during registration. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the healthcare facility, making it ideal for virtual sessions like telehealth and telemedicine. 

Patients receive an SMS or email after scheduling their appointments, after which they have to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, ensuring correct patient identification. 

Within healthcare facilities, the patient only needs to look at the camera – RightPatient performs a biometric search and provides the correct medical record after finding a positive match.

Not only does RightPatient prevent medical record mix-ups, but it also red-flags fraudsters, preventing medical identity theft even after a data breach and improving patient outcomes in the process.

Necessities for your healthcare practice in 2021

Necessities for Your Healthcare Practice in 2021

As healthcare moves further into the 21st century, healthcare providers have access to better technologies and opportunities for care than at any point in history. However, with these new frontiers come new challenges and concerns. Properly managing these new obstacles is an essential aspect of modern healthcare, but the possibilities for improved health and patient service are worth the effort. Keep reading to learn about the necessities you should have for your healthcare practice next year.

Necessities for your healthcare practice in 2021

Managing Costs

One of the most startling aspects of healthcare is the speed with which costs are increasing. For decades the cost of healthcare and healthcare spending as a percentage of the United States’ GDP have been trending steadily upwards, without any signs of slowing down. The reasons for this increase include an aging population, the cost of machinery and equipment, and inaccurate medical care. As such, it is imperative for your healthcare practice to examine ways to reduce costs for yourself and your patients.

There are several ways to do this. Eliminating paper health records can be an effective way to reduce storage space, reduce the time associated with record-keeping, and reduce the need for resources like paper and printing. All of these benefits can make electronic health records (EHR) as a cost-effective option. Additionally, you can direct your marketing resources in ways that better reflect the current market. This can include incorporating more digital advertising into your marketing strategy as these avenues tend to be cheaper. Make sure to do your research in order to find the best option for your practice.

Integrating New Technologies

A key aspect of your practice must always include staying up-to-date on the latest technologies. This can really help elevate your healthcare practice. In some cases, this is because new procedures or techniques require specialized equipment. In other cases, new technologies can make it easier for you to provide efficient, affordable service to your patients.

EHR is a great example of a technology that has the potential to help you run a more streamlined practice. However, many healthcare professionals have experience with paper-based records. This means that using EHR requires more than simply purchasing a software system. It is essential to invest the time and training to make sure that professionals at your practice understand the software thoroughly to ensure that records are consistent, clear, and easily accessible.

Speaking of EHRs, there are times when patients are misidentified due to a number of reasons – they are assigned inaccurate medical records during registration. Duplicate medical records, medical record mix-ups, and overlays are just some examples, and patient misidentification can severely impact patient safety – jeopardizing healthcare outcomes. Fortunately, responsible healthcare providers are solving patient identification errors with RightPatient, a touchless biometric patient identification platform. It uses patients’ faces to identify their EHRs accurately and can be used at any touchpoint, starting from appointment scheduling.

Likewise, endoscopies and other procedures that rely on cameras can be a valuable tool to improve the health and quality of life of your patients. But, the equipment needed for them can quickly become obsolete, and incorporating such devices into your practice can require a great deal of time and financial cost. As you consider which technologies to use in your practice, pay careful attention to the demands of your patients, how long you plan to use a device, and the capacity of your space. 

Excellent Management and Necessary Care

One of the most important parts of your healthcare practice should be excellent management. It is important to invest in ways to make the experience for patients even better than anticipated every time they visit. For example, excellent healthcare management can be choosing the type of best type of lighting for an operating room or comforting lighting in a lobby for visitors. This can help people to feel more comfortable overall in your office.

Because of the high costs associated with nearly every aspect of the healthcare system, it is essential that your practice recommend and provide the best care possible. According to Forbes, one of the leading factors in the increase in healthcare costs is providers recommending care that is not necessary. In addition to charging patients for care that they do not need, providing unnecessary treatment requires you to purchase supplies and equipment. This can lead to a cycle in which you purchase equipment that might not be a good fit for your practice. In turn, you could continue recommending unnecessary care to pay for that equipment. Moreover, unnecessary treatments cause healthcare costs across the country to increase which will further impact your bottom line.

Another related concern is providing ineffective or harmful care. Beyond the fact that providing care to fix a medical mistake, or paying a settlement, can cost your practice money, it also erodes public trust. The best way to ensure that patients continue to return to your practice is to treat them as well as possible the first time.

Conclusion

As your practice strives to serve your patients as well as possible, the value of effective planning and conscientious treatment is hard to overstate. By paying attention to cost factors and using your resources well, you can take good care of your patients as well as your practice. In addition to earning the trust of your customers, taking care of these details can help your practice thrive for years to come.

7 Q&As That Shed Light on the Opioid Use Epidemic in the United States

7 Q&As That Shed Light on the Opioid Use Epidemic in the United States

The past two decades have seen an alarming crisis involving substance abuse in the United States. The number of addiction-related deaths has been consistently rising that in 2018, 67,400 deaths were recorded, a figure that is almost four times higher than the documented 17,500 deaths in 2000. The leading culprit among these deaths includes heroin, prescription painkillers, and opioids.

In 2011, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared an epidemic of overdoses from prescription painkillers, the most common of which are opioids. This opioid epidemic rapidly evolved from a problem concerning the abuse of prescription opioids to a nationwide crisis of illegal drug trafficking. Unfortunately, evidence shows that the ever-growing problem has started creeping beyond opioids to include other drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine.

Read below to know more about the opioid use epidemic in the United States and how you can get help for alcohol and drug abuse today.

When Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?

The onset of the opiate use epidemic in the US is believed to have been brought about by the upsurge in the use of prescription opioid painkillers. In the 1980s, several medical journals published studies about the effectiveness of opioids as painkillers without the risk of addiction, and this triggered the beginning of the rampant prescribing of opioid painkillers by health professionals. Moreover, what is believed to be the “focal point of opioid abuse issues” was the development and approval of the opioid painkiller OxyContin in 1995.

What Are the Three Waves of Opioid-related Deaths?

In a span of less than 20 years, from 1999-2018, a whopping 450,000 people have already died from substance abuse related to an opioid overdose involving both prescription and illicit opioids. This opioid epidemic can be summarized in three waves.

The 1990s marked the first wave, where an increase in the prescribing of opioids was observed, followed by a rapid increase in opioid-related deaths involving natural and semi-synthetic prescription opioids and methadone.
The second wave took place in 2010 and is marked by exponential increases in heroin overdose-related deaths.
The third wave transpired in 2013, where rapid increases in deaths from overdoses on synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, was observed.

What Do National Trends Look Like?

National trends on opioid overdose deaths show the ever-evolving phases of the opioid epidemic described above. Also, death rates due to cocaine and psychostimulant abuse also increased around the same time when an increase in heroin and synthetic opioid-related deaths was seen. Studies show that this relationship is somehow propelled by an increase in death rates involving multiple drug abuse.

What Do State Trends Look Like?

Most US states have experienced considerable increases in opioid-related deaths beginning in 2000, with both the type of opioids involved and the number of deaths varying widely throughout the country. To illustrate, particularly the eastern part of the country has been shown to have high rates of deaths from overdoses on synthetic opioids and heroin. Addiction and deaths related to prescription opioids, on the other hand, tend to be scattered across the country.

Regional variations were also observed in non-opioid drugs such as cocaine, with the highest death rates recorded in the eastern US. In contrast, psychostimulants were responsible for many overdose-related deaths in the western part of the US.

What Are Some of the Most Important Statistics on the Opioid Epidemic?

  • Around 21 to 29% of patients who were prescribed opioid painkillers abused them.
  • Of those patients, about 8 to 12% eventually develop substance abuse disorder.
  • More than 14,000 treatment centers for substance abuse have been established across the United States.
  • Roughly 1.27 million Americans are now undergoing pharmacological treatment for substance abuse.
  • A 142% increase in the number of patients undergoing pharmacological treatment at HRSA-funded health centers was observed from 2016 to 2018.
  • A 4.1% decline in deaths involving drug overdose was seen from 2017 to 2018.
  • From 2016 to 2019, more than USD 9 billion has been granted to various communities to help combat the opioid epidemic.

What Is the Government’s Strategy in Combating the Opioid Epidemic?

The National Institutes of Health laid out five priorities in the fight against the opioid use epidemic in the US:

  • To promote treatment of opioid abuse through the use of overdose-reversing drugs
  • To improve the public’s access to treatment facilities and services
  • To provide support for scientific research on substance abuse
  • To advance better healthcare practices for pain management
  • To strengthen the public’s knowledge and understanding of the opioid epidemic by expanding public health surveillance

The opioid use epidemic in the US began in the 1990s, which marked the first of the three waves of opioid-related deaths. Since then, surveillance of appropriate opioid use has been strengthened to mitigate the crisis, and a decline in death rates is now being observed for the past few years. Hopefully, this is a sign of a reversal in the grim trends that have long been observed in this ongoing epidemic, which has resulted in massive economic, health, and social costs across the United States.

How can healthcare providers address the opioid crisis?

Healthcare providers across the US are facing the consequences of the opioid crisis. For instance, many of those who are addicted to opioids come in and assume the identities of other patients, or can even steal the credentials of others. In either case, they are committing medical identity theft to gain illegal access to opioids. Since there is no effective patient identifier present, many of these bad actors get away with it, hampering patient safety and corrupting the affected patient’s data. While different caregivers are using different strategies to reduce opioid cases, many are doing it effectively by preventing medical identity theft with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is used by several caregivers to accurately identify their patients. However, it can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. During registration, the platform locks the medical records with patients’ photos and biometric data. After registration, the patient only needs to look at the camera for verification – the platform runs a biometric search and provides the correct medical record within seconds. Thus, if a bad actor tries to pass off as the patient, RightPatient red-flags the individual, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

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Four Ways to Improve Protection of Patient Information Within Hospitals

Healthcare in the US has been facing considerable challenges for the past few years. Data breaches, medical errors, patient safety issues, patient mix-ups, medical identity theft, the lack of interoperability, and detrimental patient outcomes are just some of the many problems that plague healthcare providers. However, one of the more crucial issues for healthcare providers is data breaches as they lead to a number of problems, especially compromising patient information. Unfortunately, these are becoming more common, even during the pandemic. Let’s take a look at why protection of patient information is crucial and four ways to improve its protection – leading to better quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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Why the protection of patient information is crucial

The importance of patient information cannot be overstated – it is one of the most sensitive pieces of information for any given individual. Since it contains data such as names, medical history, medications, vitals, diagnoses, allergies, test results, demographics, etc., it should be protected at all times. Otherwise, external and internal data breaches can lead to the exposure of patient information to unauthorized individuals who might use it for nefarious purposes.

Medical identity theft is one of the most common outcomes of data breaches, and the former leads to patient data corruption. Patient data becomes unreliable, fragmented, and dangerous, causing detrimental healthcare outcomes down the line. This is exactly why HIPAA focuses on protecting sensitive information, known as PHI (protected health information).

After seeing why the protection of patient information is important, let’s take a look at how to improve it.

Four ways to improve the protection of patient information

Monitor access rights

Another way to enhance patient data protection is by monitoring access rights periodically, at the very least. This can be done by conducting internal audits to detect whether any unauthorized individuals have access to patient records. It’s crucial to remember that patient data protection requires preventing both internal and external breaches as well, and monitoring access rights prevents internal ones. After detecting the issues, simply revoking the access given to unauthorized users enhances protection.

Conduct risk assessments regularly

The best way to protect patient information is by taking the proactive approach – identifying issues within the system before the hackers do. Thus, healthcare providers need to conduct internal audits in order to detect existing security gaps, come up with effective solutions, and implement corrective actions.

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Utilize blockchain

Blockchain is something that has been trending in the past few years, and using it can significantly improve patient data protection. But how exactly can it help healthcare providers do so?

Well, hackers usually attack a single point. Since patient information is grouped in a single location, it’s easier to attack it and tamper with it however they please. Fortunately, blockchain enhances the protection of patient information. As the stored data is distributed over the network, hackers no longer can attack a single point – they need to access the data at all the blocks repeatedly. Moreover, any changes will be picked up by the officials and such changes require the approval of the majority of those in charge, making it virtually impossible for conventional hackers to hamper patient information.

Use solutions that focus on patient data protection

There are many solutions available for protecting patient data, but responsible caregivers need to think beyond data breaches as well. Data breaches have been far too common, and that’s because most healthcare providers have budgetary constraints leading to poor cybersecurity measures. While data breaches might be inevitable, providers can prevent medical identity theft in real-time with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification solution that locks EHRs with patients’ photos. Moreover, it’s versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the hospital, making it ideal for remote sessions such as telehealth and telemedicine.

After scheduling an appointment, the patients receive an SMS or email. They need to provide a selfie along with a photo of their driver’s license, after which the platform compares the photos for a positive match, ensuring remote authentication.

Patients coming to hospitals only need to look at the camera. The platform compares the photos – red-flagging fraudsters and preventing medical identity theft in real-time. This ensures the protection of patient information as it prevents incorporating the fraudsters’ medical information within the EHR. In many cases, medical identity theft can be life-threatening for the patients if it remains undetected and unaddressed, something that RightPatient prevents.

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Ensuring Safety in Healthcare Is Crucial as COVID-19 Cases Rise

What a year this has been! While it’s almost the end of the unforgettable year of 2020, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for many years to come, unfortunately. 2020 will be globally remembered as one of the worst years in recent times due to the pandemic and how it kept pushing everyone to their limits. Arguably, it hit the US healthcare system the worst – just take a look at the mindboggling statistics. COVID-19 has infected more than 15 million Americans while claiming just over 288,000 lives. That’s not all – cases are increasing rapidly every day, with healthcare providers being overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 patients. With all that’s going on, safety in healthcare providers’ facilities as well as accommodating patients is more important than ever.

Ensuring-safety-in-healthcare-facilities-is-possible-with-RightPatient

Let’s take a look at some of the recent moves taken in response to the pandemic, how they can improve healthcare outcomes and prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), and how an effective patient identity management platform can help.

Recent moves to tackle COVID-19 challenges

Patients are being redirected to other facilities due to capacity limitations

Lifespan Health System of Providence, Rhode Island, is redirecting COVID-19 patients to a field hospital located at Rhode Island Convention Center, as the former reached its capacity and has no beds to spare. While it still has its ICU and ventilators available, its regular beds are full due to COVID-19 patients. Moreover, the field hospital, with a capacity for 600 patients, is accepting non-critical patients as well.

A similar case had occurred in Arizona’s Holy Cross Hospital. Instead of admitting the patient at a neighboring facility, the ambulance crew took the patient to the Nogales International Airport before transferring him to a different location (Flagstaff) due to capacity constraints.

COVID-19 surge forces Mayo Clinic to temporarily close clinics

The Mayo Clinic Health System closed one of its clinics temporarily and will do the same with its four other clinics. The affected clinics are its Mankato-Northridge, Belle Plaine, Le Sueur, Janesville, and Waterville clinics. The health system is doing so to reallocate its resources and prioritize critical care due to the COVID-19 surge. However, patients may still visit its other sites or use the online services they provide, such as virtual sessions, nurse line, etc.

A pediatric acute care hospital will accept adult cases

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will be accepting adults under 30, whenever possible, in order to help ease the pressure of COVID-19 on other hospitals. Many local healthcare providers that serve adult patients are almost nearing their capacities due to the overwhelming number of patients, which is why Cincinnati Children’s has made such a welcome decision.

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The existing practices aren’t enough to ensure safety in healthcare facilities

All of the healthcare providers have one priority right now – to ensure safety within their facilities. However, COVID-19 has been creating havoc in healthcare facilities for months now, leading to many of them shutting down, health systems suspending some of its facilities temporarily, or resorting to cost-cutting measures.

While a few might be benefitting from such measures, healthcare as a whole is suffering. Hospitals need to seek out ways to enhance patient safety, reduce HAIs, reduce response times, and improve patient outcomes to ensure survival during and after COVID-19. Thankfully, RightPatient can help.

RightPatient enhances safety in healthcare facilities

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is extremely beneficial for healthcare providers, especially during the pandemic. Since it is touchless, it doesn’t have any infection control liabilities associated with it, leading to reduced hospital-acquired infections and improving safety in healthcare for everyone involved. Moreover, it maintains patient data integrity by associating correct medical records with the appropriate patients every time – it locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. Also, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint in a healthcare facility, making it ideal for telehealth sessions.

After scheduling appointments, patients receive an SMS or email for verifying their identities. Patients are required to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license or any other form of identification. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, remotely authenticating patients. Biometric credentials are provided to the new patients. This helps ensure that the accurate patient is identified right from appointment scheduling.

At healthcare facilities, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform compares the photos for a match and provides accurate medical records within seconds, making it the most hygienic and feasible choice for patient identification. 

RightPatient improves safety in healthcare facilities not only by identifying patients accurately and ensuring patient data protection but by also reducing HAIs, something that is paramount right now. 

Be a responsible healthcare provider and use RightPatient now to improve healthcare outcomes, enhance patient safety, and protect patients.